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Mass arrests in Belarus, on the sidelines of a referendum on nuclear weapons

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While Belarusian territory is one of the rear bases of the Russian offensive launched last Thursday in Ukraine, one of the amendments submitted to referendum would allow the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus – a neighbor of Ukraine and Poland – to the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

If you [les Occidentaux] transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will ask [Vladimir] Putin to return the nuclear weapons that we had abandoned without any conditions. »

A quote from Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus

The constitutional referendum, approved by 65% ​​of the population according to official data, has been accompanied by demonstrations unprecedented for months, with thousands of people taking to the streets despite the severe repression of the opposition since the challenge of the re-election deemed fraudulent of Alexander Lukashenko in August 2020.

The Western powers do not intend to recognize the result of this election, in particular because of the repressive context in which it took place.

France thus made it known on Monday, through a statement by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that it did not recognize the results of the so-called referendum poll.

European sanctions in sight

France, which calls itself particularly concerned by the deletion of references to the objective of neutrality of Belarus and the denuclearization of its territorywarns thatNATOwe reserve the right to take the necessary measures to adapt to this new strategic situation”,”text”:”together with our NATO partners, we reserve the right to take the necessary measures to adapt to this new situation strategic location”}}”>with our partners inNorth Atlantic Treaty Organizationwe reserve the right to take the necessary measures to adapt to this new strategic situation.

The High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, meanwhile estimated on Monday that Russia was borrowing a very dangerous path intending to deploy nuclear equipment in Belarus.

According to a senior European official, theEuropean Union plans to impose new sanctions on Belarus this week over its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

For the Belarusian Ministry of the Interior, despite calls for destabilization from abroad, there was no mass mobilization. Police were focused on a quick response to suppress provocationssays the same source.

Svetlana Tsikhanouskaïa, opponent of Alexander Lukashenko in the 2020 presidential election and leader of the opposition in exile, had called on Belarusians to use the referendum to protest against the Russian offensive in Ukraine, which Moscow describes as aspecial military operation.

Videos and photos posted on social media showed dozens of people gathering around polling stations in the capital Minsk and other cities across the country, with several videos showing crowds chanting no to war.

Among the changes proposed in the framework of the constitutional referendum is also an amendment granting life immunity to the president, including if he leaves power.

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